Going into the 2013-14 NBA regular season, the speculation around the league suggested that the Chicago Bulls, with the return of their spectacular superstar Derrick Rose, would once again rise to the highest of heights attainable and become the Miami Heat killer of the Eastern Conference.
Thus far, the idea of such a feat occurring has looked less reality and more like an illusion.
In some ways, the 2-3 record that the Bulls currently hold claim to so far this season isn’t something that should cause any alarm, especially in the context of an 82-game season. However, there are causes for concern with regards to the fundamental aspects of the basketball team, especially the ones that will be crucial for them to have any success this upcoming season.
For one, the offense has looked absolutely pitiful, lacking any cohesion and consistency. To the objective eye, the team’s offensive attack looks less like one made up of unselfish players battling together and more like a young group that pass when it’s convenient. At 91.6 points a game, a figure that ranks 28th in the NBA, the team simply does not any chance at defeating any of the top teams in the conference, let alone have hope at seriously pursuing the NBA championship that has not been paraded through Chicago’s streets in nearly two decades.
The Indiana Pacers, with their combination of size, balance and star power, would crush the Bulls in a playoff series at the moment. This was never more evident than in the one-sided 97-80 affair between the two teams on November 6, a game in which the Pacers completely dominated despite shooting only 41.9 percent from the field and receiving a 6-of-19 performance from Paul George, an early MVP favorite in the NBA.
As for the Heat, with Dwyane Wade looking healthier than he has in years. Along with the presence of James, Chris Bosh and their plethora of 3-point marksmen, the Bulls simply cannot seriously consider themselves an even matchup with a team that can match them defensively but can also easily put up points, where the Bulls seemingly scratch and claw for each score that they earn.
Simply put, the thought of the Bulls passing either team is a foolish pursuit that will undoubtedly end in the same disappointment that has befallen the team in the three years prior to this one.
With the return of Rose, a player that characteristically plays better with the ball than without it, the team simply looks lost. As Rose has struggled to translate his sparkling preseason performances into regular-season success, the Bulls have struggled to put up the kind of offensive support that its stellar defense needs to consistently win games in the NBA.
Furthermore, when one looks at the supporting players, the team sorely lacks any production past that of Carlos Boozer (18.2 PPG) and Luol Deng (15.4) in the scoring department.
Is this a team that is destined for drastic change in production, or one that suffers a slow, painful and familiar death by elimination if a makeover is not undertaken? Only time will tell.